AS PEOPLE AROUND THE UNITED STATES FIGHT THIS YEAR'S INFLUENZA VIRUS, DISCOVERY SHINES A LIGHT ON THREE DEADLY VIRUSES AND THEIR POTENTIAL FOR CATASTROPHIC OUTBREAKS IN "INVISIBLE KILLERS"
Episodes focused on INFLUENZA, SMALLPOX and EBOLA
to air on Discovery Channel and Science Channel March 29
(New York) - Viruses have shaped our health and our history, and, despite all the tools of modern medicine, they continue to kill millions of people every year. Influenza, smallpox, and Ebola are among the three most lethal viruses ever to have plagued mankind. Each has taken a devastatingly large toll on the human population. Smallpox killed more people than all the wars in human history, and we are just one test tube away from biomedical warfare. The flu spreads like wildfire across the globe every year, killing the young and the old alike, and Ebola shocks and terrifies the world each time it emerges.
The ferocity of these viruses is anything but an event of the past; according to recent reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season is one of the worst in years. Smallpox, eradicated in the wild, is a top bioterrorism threat. And the next Ebola outbreak always lurks just out of sight.
Three years in the making, Discovery's three-part series INVISIBLE KILLERS takes viewers around the world to understand how viruses have shaped our health and history, the biological and social impact they have on our global society, and the incredible work that is being done to combat them. In the ongoing battle between humans and viruses, INVISIBLE KILLERS asks: Are we winning? And, when the next pandemic comes, will we be ready?
INVISIBLE KILLERS: INFLUENZA episode premieres on Thursday March 29 at 8pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel and Science Channel. SMALLPOX and EBOLA continues on Science Channel at 9pm ET/PT and 10pm ET/PT, respectively. Viewers will also be able to watch the entire three-part INVISIBLE KILLERS special on the Discovery GO and Science GO apps - free with their paid TV subscription.
The series features interviews with officials from the CDC, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and insights from experts at the United Nations along with homeland security officers and biosecurity experts.
INFLUENZA (premiering March 29 at 8pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel and Science Channel) delves into the astonishing and little-understood history and impact of this constantly evolving virus, which is often tragically underestimated as merely a cousin to the common cold. Each year, six months in advance of the anticipated flu season, world health officials gather to speculate what strain of virus will be most prevalent and determine which vaccine will be most successful in treating those affected. "We've got to be able to look in our crystal ball and say, 'Okay, six months from now which ones of these thousands and thousands of strains are likely to be circulating then? What's our best guess?'" explains Dr. David Morens, Senior Scientific Advisor, NIAID/NIH. "And then we have to make that vaccine."
100 years later, the episode revisits the catastrophic 1918 flu pandemic, in which there were no vaccines available, and which killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people around the world, 700,000 in the U.S. alone. Fast forward to current times, where flu vaccines are available at low-cost to millions across the country, but are mistakenly believed by many to cause the illness - a belief that health officials urge is simply not the case. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explains, "the extraordinary potential that influenza has to devastate certain segments of the population. It can be explosive."
SMALLPOX (premiering March 29 at 9pm ET/PT on Science Channel) tells the story of perhaps the greatest accomplishment of medical science, the complete eradication of the worst disease known to humankind, a scourge responsible for an estimated 500 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Journalist Michael Specter explains, "It's probably killed more people than all the wars in all of human history combined."
Now, with the disease eradicated for nearly 40 years, this once feared and deadly virus could return - this time as one of the most significant bioterror threats facing humankind. "This is what a weapon of mass destruction in the 21st century looks like," states COL. Randall Larsen, USAF (RET), and Director, Institute for Homeland Security states, "and if this were dry-powder variola virus, you carry half a pound in a briefcase and release it on the subway system and it will change the course of history."
EBOLA (premiering March 29 at 10pm ET/PT on Science Channel,) examines one of the world's deadliest viruses - spread by physical contact with infected body fluids - as it turns human compassion in to human vulnerability attacking the individuals and health professionals trying to care for the sick. The episode looks back at the perfect storm of the 2014 West African outbreak - where lack of public health infrastructure, cultural practices, and a slow global response produced the deadliest outbreak on record. Seema Yasmin, CDC epidemiologist states, "The outbreak in West Africa showed us that an outbreak anywhere is a threat everywhere so you have to be ready at all times." The hour also reveals the dramatic race to develop a vaccine and test it before the outbreak subsided and the breakthrough success that they had.
INVISIBLE KILLERS: INFLUENZA is produced for Discovery Channel and Science Channel by The Documentary Group; produced and directed by Steve Rivo; senior producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum; editor, David Mehlman; supervising producers, Jon Bardin, Alexandra Moss; executive producers, John Hoffman, Tom Yellin.
INVISIBLE KILLERS: SMALLPOX is produced for Discovery Channel and Science Channel by The Documentary Group; produced and directed by Steve Rivo; senior producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum; editor, David Mehlman; supervising producers, Jon Bardin, Alexandra Moss; executive producers, John Hoffman, Tom Yellin.
INVISIBLE KILLERS: EBOLA is produced for Discovery Channel and Science Channel by The Documentary Group; directed by Gabrielle Tenenbaum and Bent-Jorden Perlmutt; senior producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum; editor, David Mehlman; supervising producers, Jon Bardin, Alexandra Moss; executive producers, John Hoffman, Tom Yellin.
About Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 224 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information please visit www.discovery.com.
About Science Channel
Science Channel, a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the home of all things science around the clock, including series such as MYTHBUSTERS, OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF SCIENCE, WHAT ON EARTH?, HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS, UNEARTHED, and HOW IT'S MADE. Science Channel's programming also includes daily news updates with SCIENCE PRESENTS DNEWS and timely, expert-driven specials covering breaking science news and discoveries. Science Channel is the premiere TV, digital and social community for those with a passion for science, space, technology, archeology, and engineering, providing immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment across all Science Channel assets including: Science Channel television network, available in more than 72 million homes in the U.S; complimentary Video On Demand offering; SCI Go app allowing viewers to catch up on full episodes of their favorite shows anytime; deep video, interactive storytelling and virtual reality at www.sciencechannel.com; and conversations on Science Channel's popular social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat via @ScienceChannel.
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) satisfies curiosity and captivates superfans around the globe with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, lifestyle, sports and kids content brands including Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and Home of the Olympic Games across Europe. Available in more than 220 countries and territories, Discovery's programming reaches 3 billion cumulative viewers, who together consume 54 billion hours of Discovery content each year. Discovery's offering extends beyond traditional TV to all screens, including TV Everywhere products such as the GO portfolio and Discovery Kids Play; over-the-top streaming services such as Eurosport Player; digital-first and social video from Group Nine Media; and virtual reality storytelling through Discovery VR. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.
About The Documentary Group
The Documentary Group is an independent production company that produces long form and short form films. The Documentary Group's recent films include the 2016 Academy Award nominated feature documentary, Cartel Land (Winner Best Director and Best Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival), the feature documentary Midsummer in Newtown (Premiere at 2016 Tribeca Film Festival), the feature documentary and social action campaign Girl Rising, and Academy Award-Nominated Operation Homecoming. Other projects include TV specials We Will Rise (CNN) and The Homefront (PBS), as well as the limited series The Age of Aerospace (Discovery) and America in Primetime (PBS, MSNBC). The Documentary Group's programs have won numerous honors, including the duPont, Peabody, Emmy, Gabriel and Polk awards. For more information, please visit www.thedocumentarygroup.com